"Legal Advice Against Another Attorney"
This leaflet tells you briefly how to make a complaint against Act competently and diligently. LAW OF ASSOCIATION an Attorney-at-law. The Disciplinary Committee regulates all Deal with work within a reasonable time. OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Attorneys, considers complaints about them and, where At all times in entering into discussions or appropriate, can take action against them. agreements with your opponents to do so only with your express consent and instructions. Disciplinary Procedure under the Keep your affairs completely confidential. Legal Profession Act, 1986 Deal with you courteously. WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I HAVE A COMPLAINT? Give you legal advice to the best of his or her ability and act in your best interests. Raise the matter at once with your Attorney, preferably in Charge you fees that are fair and reasonable and writing. Most minor problems can be resolved quickly if they in accordance with the time expended and the are raised at the time. The longer you wait to raise your complexity of your work. complaint, the more difficult it will be to investigate and to Act in good faith and conduct himself in a establish exactly what happened. professional manner. HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER I HAVE A COMPLAINT? HOW TO BEGIN DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS HOW TO COMPLAIN AGAINST AN You may seek the advice of another Attorney-at-law to determine whether you have a valid complaint. Another At the offices of the Disciplinary Committee you will be given two forms. Form 1 is the formal application to the Disciplinary ATTORNEY-AT- LAW Attorney-at-law would be useful to provide you with an Committee. Form 2 is an affidavit which must be sworn by impartial assessment of your Attorney’s conduct. If you do not you before a Justice of the Peace/Commissioner of have such an opportunity you should contact the offices of the Affidavits/Notary Public. The Secretary of the Committee will Disciplinary Committee, First Floor, Hall of Justice, Knox be available to answer any questions related to the forms. Street, Port of Spain (Tel: 625-7166). The Secretary of the After the forms are correctly filled out and sworn you will file Committee will show you a copy of the Code of Ethics, them with the Secretary of the Disciplinary Committee. contained in the Legal Profession Act, 1986 which sets out in detail the duties and responsibilities of an Attorney-at-law. WHO MAY COMPLAIN THE DUTIES OF AN ATTORNEY AT LAW Every client has a right to complain. Where the Attorney has represented more than one person, each of those persons may Part A of the Third Schedule of the Legal Profession Act jointly issue the complaint. contains the Code of Ethics. Paragraphs 21-35 deal with the conduct of an Attorney in relation to clients. Part B of the Persons who are not clients may, with the leave of the Third Schedule also provides guidance for the conduct of Committee, also issue complaints. The key issue is whether Attorneys, in particular paragraph 10, which deals with the Attorney has committed an act of professional misconduct whether fees are unfair or unreasonable. The Code of Ethics is and if you were not a client, but nonetheless a person directly available for inspection at the offices of the Disciplinary affected by the alleged professional misconduct, you may Committee. Copies of the Act are also available for sale. proceed to file the complaint. At the hearing, you will need to Office of the Disciplinary Committee seek permission to proceed with the complaint. First Floor, Hall of Justice Knox Street, Port of Spain In general terms, when acting for you, an Attorney-at-law COMPLETING THE F ORMS CORRECTLY Tel: 625-7166; 623-7711 ext. 2272 must: You should take care in filling out the forms, especially Form 2, (the affidavit). In the affidavit you will be asked to state the grounds of your complaint. Choose your complaint. You should attend the hearing with all the This pamphlet is intended to provide a brief insight into the language carefully. It would be ideal if you consulted documents relating to the complaint or your dealings with workings of the Disciplinary Committee. It is not intended to another Attorney-at-law for help in correctly filling out the Attorney. If you have any witnesses, you should also offer legal advice about any particular problem you may have this form. The grounds of your complaint should contain ask them to attend. The hearings are conducted like a experienced. an accurate statement of your specific complaint. Where trial, with each side entitled to ask questions of the other possible, you should refer to the specific paragraph or side, and to fully present their version of the events. paragraphs of the Code of Ethics of which you allege your Attorney to be in breach. Avoid irrelevant material and concentrate on exactly what your Attorney did or did not DECISION OF THE COMMITTEE do that forms the basis of your complaint. It is important also to briefly state what financial or other losses you At the end of the hearing the Committee will give a incurred as a result of the alleged professional decision. If the Attorney has been found guilty of misconduct. professional misconduct the Committee has the power to: Impose a fine in a sum that the Committee PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE HEARING thinks proper Order that the Attorney pay you a sum of The Committee will first privately examine Forms 1 and 2 money for compensation and reimbursement to determine whether you have a prima facie case against as well as any other expenses you may have the Attorney. (This means a case which adequately makes incurred in pursuing your complaint, out a complaint for professional misconduct). If including your legal costs (if any), transport necessary, the Committee will request you to provide for witnesses etc. further or better particulars of your complaint. Before In serious cases, the Committee can, in provision of sufficient particulars of your complaint, the addition, refer its findings to the Chief Justice Committee will decide whether the Attorney should be and the Attorney General and this may lead to called upon to answer your complaint. If the Committee the Attorney being deprived of his right to decides to call upon the Attorney to answer your practice law. complaint, the Secretary will notify you of a date of hearing at the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain. Occasionally, OTHER CIVIL PROCEEDINGS the Committee will sit in Tobago. The Attorney may answer your complaint in writing by filing an affidavit. A If an Attorney has, for example through negligence, For further informati on copy of the Attorney’s affidavit will be mailed to you by caused you financial loss you will be entitled to bring civil the Secretary of the Committee. Please read the proceedings in the Courts. In the event of a criminal act by Clerk to the Secretary of Attorney’s affidavit carefully. If there are any new the Attorney the remedies will be in accordance with the the Disciplinary Co mmittee matters raised which you need to answer, or any Committee. The High Court has far wider powers to grant First Floor, Hall of Justice, Kno x Street, documents that you wish to introduce to contradict the you relief than the Disciplinary Committee. The High Port of Spain, Trin idad, West Indies. Attorney’s affidavit, then you should also file an affidavit Court may not always be the forum in civil matters. If you Tel/Fax: 625-7166; 623-7711 ext .2272 in reply. If you are in doubt, contact the Secretary of the have suffered serious loss as a result of professional Committee or seek legal advice. misconduct it would be wise to seek legal advice about the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago remedies available to you in civil proceedings as soon as 3rd Floor, Henry Hudson-Phillips Bu ilding possible. The four-year limitation will not always apply. 33, St. Vincent Street, PROCEEDINGS AT THE HEARING At any rate the object is not to give legal notice. It would Port of Spain, Trin idad, West Indies. be better simply to state that the client should seek legal TeleFax: 1-868-625-9350 It is preferable to have an Attorney represent you but if, advice as soon as possible or certain limitations to Tel: 1-868-623-2478 for any reason, you do not have one, the Committee will bringing court proceedings will apply. E-mail: email@example.com m explain your role and function, in every day language, and Website: lawassociationtt.com assist you to give your statement in support of the